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Jackie Hope: You’re so vain, you probably think this column is about you

By Jackie Hope

You got vanity plates on your ride? Or are you jonesing for some plates that say FOXY LDY or HOT RYD? You want to be easy to spot when you fly through a speed trap, don’t you? So get those personality plates and trick out your wheels with the ultimate bling: designer license plates. Oh yeah, that’s some serious swag.

Look around. It seems like everybody but you has cool vanities that scream self-absorption. Uh, no, that’s not right. They scream, “See me!” In vanity speak, that would be C-ME. Oh snap, selfies for your ride!

Think North Dakota has miles of designer plates? We are small potatoes, or SMLTATR in vanity speak, compared to Virginia. A study conducted by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in 2007 found Virginia had the most vanities, at 16.2 percent. North Dakota ranks a mere ninth, with 6.5 percent. Well, obviously Virginians are over twice as vain as us. Texans came in dead last, with only 0.5 percent of those good ol’ boys sporting vanity plates. Probably because those folks are used to driving so fast, no one can read their plates anyway.

A personal confession: Buster the Buick does not have vanity plates. See, Buster spends most of his down time in a garage with a muscle car, Sebastian Chevy, who’s a 1973 Chevelle Laguna with a 350-horsepower, two-barrel V8 engine. He is one sweet ride.

So sticking vanities on Buster would be like hanging an MVP tag on Michael Beasley just because he is sitting next to LeBron James.

Sebastian doesn’t have vanities either. That’s because Chevys already have hugely inflated egos, without adding vanity plates. Their egotism dates to the late 1950s, when they had that whole fin thing going for themselves. Ever see one of those cars? Eons ago, we had a flamingo pink ‘59 Impala with prodigious fins. She didn’t have a name, exactly. Mom sometimes called her Your Dad’s D***ed Car, but that was probably not what was recorded on her registration card. A good cross-wind on a wet road would hydroplane her into a corn field in near record time. Her vanity plate should have been 000-PS.

Researching local vanity plates has been, well, it has been a trip. A trip to the supermarket yielded this romantic duo: HER, a sleek white Taurus, was parked next to HNK, an aging hunky Mercury. Was it true love? Doubtful. Because a later trip to a different supermarket found HER snugged up to Buster. Buster’s sign is Leo, so he’s not particularly compatible with a Taurus. Buster is middle-aged and sorta fat around the bumpers. We think he yearns after lithe Lexuses – or is it Lexi? – but Buster has been a loner since his reconstructive surgery following the Deer Incident of ‘06. We try not to pry into his internal combustion thoughts.

Street-by-street investigative journalism turned up GOT ICE idling downtown. Is ICE a hockey fan? Or a fan of Ice-T? FLY was nearby, lounging alongside a pawn shop. FLY was an aging pickup, who wasn’t very fly at all. A ‘65 Mustang is fly. A ‘75 ‘Vette is fly. An aging pickup can by spry, wry or a shy guy, but seldom fly. Maybe he was a fly fisherman. He really needs to hook up with GOT ICE, and they can go ice fishing.

Cruising the parking lot out at the big box store was like driving through the set of “Wheel of Fortune.”

There were vanity plates spelling out the obvious: MYBUG on a Volkswagen and BAKN on an oil field pickup. Wait, maybe BAKN was not someone working in the Bakken, maybe he was someone who likes cooking and baking. Maybe he likes to cook bacon. OK, so BAKN was not as obvious as MYBUG. DRGNLVR must love dragons, or dragon livers, or is dragging a live dragon. DRGN-person definitely needs to buy a vowel.

Best vanity plates ever? A quick search of the web turned up these gems: a Nebraska RV is a GLBL WMR; an Iowa Maserati DOES185; a woody station wagon in Hawaii is SURFNG; a Virginia car is an Infinity ANBYOND; and a New Yorker sums it all up with MMMBACON.

Now, what are the benefits of having vanity license plates?

You can meet interesting people who ride your bumper or get all up in your grille to read your plates. Interesting people who drive fat blue Buicks. You will always be able to fill in those hotel registration cards when they ask for your license plate numbers and letters, instead of just making something up. Of course we’ve never made up license numbers for hotel registrations; we’ve only heard about people doing that. Really. You will always be able to find your car in a parking lot. Of course if your vanity plates are sappy, you probably won’t want to claim that car when anyone is watching. Police will be able to easily pick you up if you are speeding, and while you are pulled over, the rest of us can speed like crazy, so that is a benefit for us. You, not so much. And if your license plate is the one featured in “Our Town’s” “Mystery License Plate Jackpot Contest!” photo, you’ll have no trouble identifying it and claiming your Chamber Bucks.

In vanity speak, that’s WIKD-C00L.

Hope is a humor columnist for The Dickinson Press and The Drill. She writes about everyday life, living in the Oil Patch and Twinkies.